Alexander McClay Williams was a Black 16-year-old from Delaware County who was sentenced to death for the murder of his teacher in 1930. Now, nearly a century later, the murder charge has been dropped and Williams has been exonerated.
Defense attorney Robert Keller called the situation racial profiling, but the execution of an innocent Black boy reflects something even more sinister about the United States ‘justice’ system, according to ABC 6 News.
Williams was executed six months after his conviction. And the victim, judge, and jury were all white. According to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, Williams was “browbeaten” into confessing and was executed before being given the opportunity to appeal. Stollsteimer joined the family attorney in filing a motion for a new trial in order to clear Williams’ name.
Susie Carter, Alexander Williams’s only living sibling, testified, surrounded by her family’s support, hoping for an exoneration. “I am happy. I am happy,” Carter said. “There’s no way they can bring him back, but let his name be cleared of all that. He did not do it. There’s no way you can stab somebody 37 times and not have any blood on you.”
Following Williams’ execution, George Stinney Jr., 14, was executed in 1944 for the murder of two young white girls in South Carolina. According to NPR, he was exonerated in 2014 because he was denied due process. These cases may appear to be old, but Black people are still being exonerated after being executed or just moments before.
Black people were overrepresented on death row throughout the modern era, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. By 2019, black people made up 52 percent of death row inmates. Nathaniel Woods (43) of Alabama was executed for a murder he did not commit in 2020. Matthew Baker Jr., 24, of Henry County, Georgia, is facing the death penalty for a crime he did not commit. Julius Jones of Oklahoma was granted clemency just minutes before his execution in 2021.
Southern states of the United States, in particular, have carried the legacy of lynching and Jim Crow violence into their decision-making processes. How many more people must die before they are found innocent?